Today, in a globalized world, it is becoming increasingly common for companies to turn to remote working as a form of company set-up. It has become widely used in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. And it is certainly here to stay.
It is the most effective solution that companies have found for continuing their contact with employees. It makes it easier for staff to receive the instructions they should apply in their work. In addition, it ensures that despite the distance, the company and its employees continue to function.
- It is becoming increasingly common for work meetings to be held virtually, pushing meetings in the office into the background.
- Virtual meetings enable the connection between your employees, as well as external people, regardless of the place where they are.
- All you need is a stable internet connection and video call software, most of which is free of charge, to hold a meeting.
What is a virtual meeting?
This is a work meeting that is held via digital platforms in order to discuss instructions or guidelines among the team members. These meetings aim to ensure the proper development of the actions required in the company.
Holding an effective virtual meeting requires different schedules and conditions from those required for a face-to-face meeting. So, do you already know how to hold effective virtual meetings?
What are the best tools for virtual meetings?
There are many different tools on the market that allow you to hold virtual meetings in your company. Each of them has its own characteristics, which we will now explain in detail:
Telecommunication, videoconferencing and instant messaging platform that has been operating since March 2017. This platform offers the possibility of sharing screens and/or files, and hosts its own calendar for setting the meetings in advance. It includes cloud storage, and access to guests, both internal and external to the organization.
Read more about Microsoft Teams.
Software designed by VoIP, and acquired by Microsoft in 2003. This software allows voice, text and video communication on mobiles, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. Totally free, it allows screen sharing, mentioning anyone via “@”, as well as the use of emoticons. It is certainly one of the most popular applications.
Communications and videoconferencing application, which requires registration for its use. Its main feature is its channels, where you can create groups based on members, or on topics. With a free version, which gives access to almost all its functionalities, it has become one of the main communication software.
Known for its mobile messaging features, the application also allows you to hold virtual meetings. With it, you can share your screen while still working in your company’s chats. Thus, you can add an unlimited audience to your meetings, which maximizes your potential audience.
Suitable for all types of browsers and devices, it does not require installation for its use. It provides users with endless editing possibilities, from colours and shapes to the design itself. Moreover, it has a virtual whiteboard and the possibility of working with company analysis and reports.
See other best video conferencing software
Advantages and disadvantages of the virtual meeting
Virtual meetings have their own specific characteristics, which differentiate them from face-to-face meetings. As a result, they have advantages and disadvantages, which are outlined below:
- Possibility of holding meetings from anywhere in the world
- You only need to have an Internet network to connect to, and a connection software
- Avoids unnecessary travel for participants, which saves transportation costs and time
- Allows more participants than a face-to-face meeting, as there is no single workspace
- Difficult interactions between the team, as they do not share the same workplace
- Connection problems that may make it difficult to access, or to monitor it correctly
- Some people may feel uncomfortable holding meetings using technology
- Possibility of distractions, due to the greater number of external inputs
Tips to follow before the virtual meeting
An important detail is that virtual meetings must be prepared before they are held (1). They require some tips prior to the meeting, which are both necessary and important, and will help to begin the meeting correctly. They are:
Our first and most important tip is to select the software or tool suitable for the meeting. It must be a tool that allows you to do everything you need in the meeting. Recording, screen sharing, topics groups, permission to speak. These are activities that can be customized to our needs.
In addition, the tool should allow all possible participants to have easy access to it. Prior knowledge of the tool will therefore help the participants to interact more easily.
Setting up the meeting
Once you have the right tool for the virtual meeting, you need to set a date and time. The goal is to establish a start, as well as the end of the meeting. Remember that the time spent in the meeting is just as valuable as the time employees spend on their other work (2).
Plan meetings according to the importance of the subject to be discussed. Naturally, you should adjust the number of participants in the meeting, trying to keep this to a minimum. Use less busy times for the meeting, when fewer participants are required, to ensure that the meeting runs smoothly.
Preparation of material
As in the case of face-to-face meetings, the preparation of documentation is an indispensable requirement. In this regard, a presentation must be made, either in the form of slides or your own annotations. As a result, they can then be shared through the application, or even emails (3).
It should be concise, not confusing and “to the point”. It should also be useful for the topic of discussion among the participants. Also, it should be clear, in order to solve those problems that have been detected, or to implement decisions that will make us more competitive.
Last but not least, it is important to ensure that there is a good connection. When we hold virtual meetings, we must check that there are no technological errors. It is also essential to check that speakers and microphones meet the recommended quality for the virtual meeting.
Also opt for an area without external noise, so that you can hear what is going on during the meeting. Remember that in these meetings, anything that cannot be heard or seen correctly will cause a lack of attention from the participants.
Necessary tips during the virtual meeting
During the meeting, you should follow some tips which will turn any meeting into an effective one.
Be the first
Being a host of the virtual meeting, your duty is to be the first to appear in the virtual access room. Take advantage of this moment to review the data to be reported, as well as the notes, slides, and elements of the meeting.
Now is the time to start greeting those joining the meeting, as some people are generally more punctual. From this moment on, you should choose the tone you want to use for the meeting: technical, informal, serious? This does not prevent you from using different tones during the meeting, depending on the subject you are dealing with.
Do not monopolize
Although the meeting has a host, every company has groups of people, who can bring different and innovative ideas to the presentation.
It is necessary to provide channels in the meeting, so that all participants can contribute their points of view. The meeting is not a monologue; on the contrary, it is a gathering of participants to discuss the work goals you want to achieve.
End the presentation and open the question period
Once the objectives of the meeting have been met, it is time to end the meeting. Consequently, the time for questions that have arisen should begin. Technical questions, ways of implementation, and doubts that may arise.
This is a more interactive phase than the previous ones, and it requires the active participation of users. Thus, all participants must respect their turn to speak, which is possible because of the “raising hand” feature of video call software.
Tips for a successful virtual meeting
As you can see, holding a successful virtual meeting depends on several factors. We can point out 3 basic tips that will help you to carry out an ideal meeting:
- Small number of participants. It is important to hold meetings with a low number of attendees. Do not invite more people than necessary: remember that the greater the number, the more difficult it may be to hold the meeting, and the more difficult it may be for your message to get through. It is important that only those who need to receive the guidelines, or those who can contribute ideas to the project we are transmitting, attend the meeting. An example of this is the “two-pizza rule” advocated by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
- Short duration. It should be taken into account that meetings limit participants’ time for their work tasks. Therefore, meetings should be brief, concise and focused exclusively on the message to be conveyed. This is undoubtedly a consequence of the psychological rule: “people lose attention to information the longer the message is”.
- Few topics to be discussed. The meetings seek to correct a detail, or implement a new work approach in a given area. They do not seek to change an entire system, therefore, meetings should not involve more than 3 topics to be discussed. Overcoming this barrier can turn the meeting into a colloquium that takes us away from the main topic and hinders communication.
We can see that virtual meetings guarantee that any employee of the company can take part in it, wherever they may be. All this is possible with the help of video call software, which enables us to connect from anywhere in the world.
Selecting an appropriate tool for your work needs, preparing the meeting before it starts, and being concise and brief are the keys to a successful meeting. Keep in mind that the goal is to convey your message accurately and clearly.
1. LSE Business Review: Five lessons from behavioral science for virtual team meetings (2020-05-19, Grace Lordan/ Rachel Jaffe)
2. Online meetings made easy to understand. (Full inclusion, 2020. Vanesa Alonso. ANFAS. Plena Inclusion Navarra/ Laura Malo and Sandra Loza. Plena inclusión La Rioja/ Olga Berrios. Plena inclusión Spain)
3. CONDUCTING MEETINGS FOR THE EFFECTIVE OPERATION OF WORKING TEAMS (CARLOS A. FRANCO G. Ph.D Full Professor, Director of the Master’s Program in Administration, Universidad Icesi/ 2-3-2004)